Never has a seagull been carrying the weight and responsibility that Brighton do going into the final weekend of the Premier League season.
Every single Liverpool fan will have a second team on Sunday – and they will be wearing blue and white stripes. If your hope is on a wing and a prayer it may as well be on a seagull.
Manchester City know that a win will be enough to retain their title but football is rarely that easy.
When is Brighton v Manchester City?
Competition: English Premier League
Date: Sunday 12 May
Venue: The Amex Stadium, Brighton
Kick-off time: 15:00 BST
Where can I watch live?
The game can be watched on Sky Sports main event and Sky Sports Football. You can also tune in on the Sky Sports app.
These two sides have faced each other 21 times in all competitions dating back to 1924. Manchester City have had by far the better of it, winning 12 times, drawing four and losing just five times. This season’s reverse fixture saw City win 2-0 way back in September.
This game is a fitting finale with Brighton celebrating safety and Man City hoping have another Premier League trophy in the Cabinet by quarter-to-five.
Man City wins: 12 Draws: 4 Brighton wins: 5
There is no denying that this should, on paper, be an easy three points for Manchester City but they have been making hard work of ‘easy wins’ lately having to find another side to their game in order to seal the precious three points.
Knowing a win is enough to bring home their fourth title in eight seasons they are likely to start with a high tempo and try to force an early goal in order to quiet a home crowd celebrating safety. With many bookies no longer taking odds on a City title win there is a weight of opinion that suggests they will get the job done at the Amex fairly easily.
Brighton themselves will just want to try and bag one more win before the end of a difficult campaign. They have won just two of their last 17 games and scoring goals has been a real issue. In fairness to Chris Hughton’s men they have improved lately losing only one of the last four but with the other three being draws it only highlights their lack of a cutting edge.
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Will Man City make it eight clean-sheets from 10?
With Brighton’s lack of attacking threat, it is even more unlikely that City will falter at the final hurdle. They have been rock solid at the back over the last nine matches keeping an outstanding seven clean-sheets and conceding just twice in that run.
You can get odds of 4/5 on Manchester City to win to nil and for good reason. Vincent Kompany has been as good as ever in the last three games, an excellent partner for Aymeric Laporte and John Stones could easily step in if required.
Can Brighton deliver Liverpool the title?
When you hopes of winning your first title since 1990 and the first of the Premier League era, are resting on a side that can’t score and can’t buy a win then it is fair to say it is a fool’s hope but we all love being made fools of and football has a habit of doing just that.
Brighton, with odds of 15/1 to win, are huge outsiders and have absolutely no pressure on them going into the final game which could see them play some better, more loose football. City could also be a bit tense knowing what rests on this game.
If the Seagulls score first then maybe, just maybe they could hand Liverpool the most unlikely of final day titles and in doing so become the number one holiday destination for Merseysiders of the red persuasion for years to come.
Which Man City will turn up?
On Monday we saw a City squeeze past Leicester with the kind of performance that every champion needs to produce when it matters most.
They ground out a result as a timely belter from Vincent Kompany, who has odds of 25/to be the first goalscorer this Sunday, sealed a huge win for Pep Guardiola’s side.
This is something we have seen more of in recent weeks with City having to show grit to get the job done rather than just blowing teams aside as they did earlier in the campaign.
To highlight this, they have not won any of their last 10 games by more than two goals and half of those were won by a single goal margin.
They would take that at Brighton, no questions asked but, as we all know, City are capable of ripping a team to shreds as Chelsea, Southampton and Huddersfield not to mention Burnley and Cardiff have found out this season.
Given the occasion, it is more likely to be the kind of performance seen against Leicester but an early goal could see the confidence start to ooze and the Brighton might suddenly look forward to the end of the season a little more than usual.
Apart from long-term absentees Jose Izquierdo, Luke Steele and Davy Propper there is likely to be a full selection available to Chris Hughton.
For City, Fernandinho is definitely out with a knee injury and could make it back in time for the FA Cup final but will not be involved on Sunday. Kevin de Bruyne has trained the last two days and could be involved although more likely from the bench. Long-term absentee Benjamin Mendy is the other not to be involved on the final day.
1. Kompany and Laporte to continue at the back
Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte have been excellent in the centre of defence in the last three games and will be unlikely to change going into the final day.
Predicted Man City XI (4-3-3): Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko, D. Silva, Guendogan, Foden, Sterling, Aguero, B. Silva
2. Hughton to keep the faith
Chris Hughton was proud of his side’s performance in the 1-1 draw at the Emirates and will be unlikely to make changes against City.
Predicted Brighton XI (4-3-3): Ryan, Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo, Bissouma, Stephens, Gross, March, Murray, Jahanbakhsh
This is going to be a tense final game even though City are heavy favourites to come through and bag the title. Depending on which side turns up, Pep’s men have so much class and quality with an important element of grit to get the job done.
Their defence has been superb in the last nine games while Albion have struggled to score all season.
Even if the Seagulls frustrate City for long periods Pep will be telling his side to be patient and in the end, their quality should shine through.